December 15, 2017

Greek Triumph for ‘Village Rockstars’

It’s raining international awards and recognitions for Assamese film ‘Village Rockstars’. After scooping up the Special Jury Mention Award, the Best Director and the Best Actress Awards at the Olympia International Film Festival for Children and Young People, in Pyrgos, Greece, the film has recently added more trophies to it’s collection - bagging the Best Film and the Best Actress awards at the Smile International Film Festival, in Delhi. It’s a fantastic achievement for both the film’s director Rima Das and actress Bhanita Das, who have garnered multiple accolades.

The film’s golden streak of international prizes began after it fetched the Spirit of the Festival award at the 62nd Cork Film Festival, before garnering some major awards at the 9th MAMI Film Festival - the Golden Gateway award in the India Gold Category, Oxfam Gender Equality Award and the Young Critics Choice Award. It was followed by the Golden Elephant for the Best Director (Feature Film) in the Asian Panorama section – by Adult Jury, and Special Jury award for the Best Child Performer (Bhanita Das), at the 20th International Children's Film Festival of India (ICFFI) 2017, held in Hyderabad. ‘Village Rockstars’ had also won the Fathy Farag Prize (for Best Artistic Contribution) in the International Critic's Week competition at the 39th Cairo International Film Festival. It has also earned a lot of critical acclaim at other national and international film festivals, including Cannes International Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, among others.

A self-taught filmmaker, Rima Das is also the film’s screenwriter, executive producer, editor, production designer and cinematographer.

The 88-minute ‘Village Rockstars’ is a documentation of the life of a belligerent tomboy, 10-year-old Dhunu (Bhanita Das), who has grown up in a remote flood-prone hamlet, in deprivation. She learns to fend for herself in the hostile surroundings while nurturing an unlikely dream - to own a guitar and form a music band with her gang of friends in the village. Her widowed mother (Basanti Das), who is working hard to make ends meet, and guard her little girl from the harshness of life, is very supportive. The film is a disarmingly sweet and sensitive slice-of-life tale, below the folds of which the gender disparity and the coarseness of daily life in the village come alive.

The lifestyle of the people in the film is portrayed with delectable rawness. Rima Das produced scenes so real they don’t appear to be acted or scripted but instead emerge organically out of the interplay between the performers. The child actors and other cast members had never watched a film shooting before, let alone act in one. Kuladhar Bhattacharya was the only experienced actor. All members of the cast are from Kalardia village, near Chaigaon of Kamrup district where the film was shot. The shooting began in 2014 and ended in 2017.

Made in the Kamrupi language, ‘Village Rockstars’ would be screened in Assam's theatres very soon. Rima's directorial debut was ‘Man with a Binocular’ that also earned accolades at various film festivals.

Prantik Deka